Still seeking health insurance, Kapell may sue Greenport again

Although two courts have ruled against him, former Greenport mayor David Kapell is renewing his claim for village-funded health insurance, and he’s also seeking back payment for the premiums he’s paid and his legal fees.

Mr. Kapell has filed a new notice of claim, a precursor to a potential lawsuit, seeking just under $70,000. A little over half of the amount is for the premiums he’s paid retroactive to June 2007. The rest is for legal expenses incurred in fighting the Village Board’s decision to reverse the resolution granting him the health care benefit, which was passed just before Mr. Kapell left office.

The dispute centers on two resolutions approved by two separate Village Boards.

During Mr. Kapell’s last meeting as mayor in April 2007, the board approved a new contract for the village’s civil service employees. Included in that was a provision granting the mayor the same postretirement health coverage, 100 percent paid by the village, as that given to CSEA members. The outgoing board agreed with Mr. Kapell’s assertion that although the mayor’s post is officially part-time, he had worked full-time for the municipality.

But one of the first decisions made by the new board, led by new Mayor David Nyce, was to reverse that resolution.

Mr. Kapell filed a legal action in state Supreme Court. But in a ruling upheld on appeal, the court found that the village was within its rights to amend a benefits package given to an elected official.

The former mayor said he’s not disputing that ruling but is claiming that the village is following one set of rules in denying him coverage and another in giving partial insurance benefits to Trustee George Hubbard.

“They’re within their rights to do what they did,” he said. “The problem is they made a mistake.”

By rescinding that one resolution, the board placed itself under the rules set during the administration of former mayor Bill Pell in the 1990s, said Mr. Kapell. By resolution, board members were allowed to participate in the municipal insurance plan at their own expense but with no village contributions.

“By what authority do they pay part of Mr. Hubbard’s insurance?” said the former mayor. “I don’t begrudge George the benefit. I think they all should get it.”

Mr. Kapel argues that by paying part of the trustee’s premiums the village is essentially agreeing that the 2007 resolution giving him health benefits is still in effect.

He further claims that by paying for part of Mr. Hubbard’s coverage, the village misled the courts considering his lawsuit into believing that the new board’s resolution had been rescinded.

The notice of claim Mr. Kapell filed gives the village six months to consider his demands before any legal action can begin.
He adds that he’s of no mind to negotiate with the village.

“A settlement would have to include a full restoration of my benefits,” said Mr. Kapell. “Am I going to take $37,000 and pretend everything in hunky-dory? No way.”

Mr. Nyce declined comment other than to say the claim has been forwarded to the village attorneys.

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